Ben Revere Needs to Do More Than Just Hit Singles

In the bottom of the third inning against Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez on Sunday afternoon, Ben Revere slapped a ground ball down the first base line into the right field corner. It was a triple the moment it got past first baseman Adam LaRoche, showcasing Revere’s best weapon: his speed; the ability to turn a single into a double or a double into a triple. The triple was Revere’s second of the season. Unfortunately, the Phillies couldn’t get him home the way they did Jimmy Rollins after the shortstop tripled in the first inning.

Shockingly, Revere’s two triples are his only extra-base hits of the season. That he hasn’t homered is no surprise, but that he hasn’t doubled yet is perplexing. Additionally, Revere has only drawn two walks in 105 plate appearances (1.9%). Even though he is hitting a respectable .284, Revere has a .270 weighted on-base average, which is the fourth-worst among qualified center fielders. He outranks only Will Venable, Abraham Almonte (the Mariners demoted him to Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday night), and Denard Span.

If Revere isn’t going to walk or homer, then Revere has to make frequent use of the gaps in the outfield. Unfortunately, since joining the Phillies, only 14 of his 126 hits have gone for extra bases. To Revere’s credit, he has turned a single into a double with 10 stolen bases in 11 attempts this season. However, he hasn’t attempted a steal of third yet in 2014.

Revere is most commonly compared to Juan Pierre, another powerless slap hitter who stole a lot of bases. Pierre, however, averaged nearly 25 doubles per season in the seven-year span in which he was a regular outfielder for the Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, and Chicago Cubs between 2001-07. He also averaged 10 triples and 40 walks per season. That’s in addition to hitting .301 overall and averaging 55 steals per season. In those seasons, Pierre’s adjusted weighted runs created (wRC+) was 88, 12 points below average. Revere’s as a Phillie? 86.

Revere is only 26 years old and still has the potential to be every bit as valuable to the Phillies — and every bit as annoying as Pierre was to his opponents — if he can do more than just hit singles and occasionally steal second base. Revere is hitting ground balls at a 68.2 percent clip, the third-highest rate in baseball. His ground ball to fly ball ratio at 7.50-to-one is by far the highest in the league, well ahead of second-place Jean Segura‘s 5.64.

A majority of Revere’s ground balls are right up the middle to the shortstop or second baseman, routine plays even with his speed. Revere should instead focus on hitting line drives, or if he can’t do that, then slapping ground balls to the left side — keeping the ball as far away from the first base bag as possible to give him the best possible chance to beat out a throw, putting pressure on the defense.

You don’t have to be terribly strong to hit line drives; just strong enough to get them to the outfield. If Pierre and Rafael Furcal can do it, Revere can do it. These are the kinds of dinky hits that should be common with Revere:

And hey, some more walks would be nice too. Baby steps.

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16 comments

  1. George Callanan

    May 05, 2014 07:31 AM

    Revere started terrible last year very slow. Then he started to turn it on, even if it was a slew of singles this puts pressure on the opposing pitchers. I do not think it was a coincidence last year when he got hurt the Phillies collapsed. He is a bargain for what the Phillies pay him. Let’s hope he picks up and gets some doubles. If he gets to second he scores. I like his attitude and will stay positive on him. Come on Ben make me look good!

    • Evan

      May 05, 2014 08:01 AM

      Nice way of thinking about it! I am a big Ben fan as well and loved the trade. Still though, he does need to be hitting more line drives or even trying to bunt his way on more. Totally agree with the walks though, we could live without the lack of power of he was a heck of a lot more patient at the plate.

      • crow

        May 05, 2014 09:27 AM

        Revere is somewhat a victim of seemingly “good” qualities. He has an insanely high contact rate on strikes in the zone (96.3% career) and out of the zone (84.4% career). He’d be better served by missing some of the pitches he makes weak contact with. He hits the ball where it’s pitched and so is that rarity, a LHB who never pulls the ball down the right field line. He has a good eye for the strike zone, but doesn’t distinguish between pitchers’ strikes that ought just to be taken and those that maximize the opportunity for solid contact.

  2. Tim

    May 05, 2014 10:43 AM

    I love that a large number of Ben Revere’s comparable players from Baseball Reference are guys from the 1800s and the deadball era. He is truly old school.

    Of course, the biggest standout on the similar batters through 25 list is Kirby Puckett. Now that Revere’s in his age-26 season, all we have to do is sit back and wait for him to hit 30 home runs, right?

  3. Francisco (FC)

    May 05, 2014 11:22 AM

    Is it me or does Revere embody that Willie Mays Hayes stereotype?

  4. Carmine James Spellane

    May 05, 2014 11:30 AM

    Revere may be a nice, likeable young man, but he is not a high-quality major league center fielder. Period. Saying things like “Revere should focus on hitting line drives…” makes it sound so simple. The increasing body of evidence is that he can’t do it. Being more selective at the plate and drawing walks is a skill that can be taught, but Ben has shown little willingness to learn. Combine that with he poor instincts in the field and his noodle arm, and we have a player destined to have a career as a below-replacement player.

    • Matt

      May 05, 2014 01:05 PM

      I think the “focus on more line drives” is an attainable goal, in that he can make better use of his great contact skills by being more selective at the plate and – like crow said above – identify which pitches he can drive more. Whether or not he is unwilling to do so is another story. He seems like a guy who would be more than willing to do the extra work, I’m more concerned with whether the coaching staff and organization have identified this as an area he could feasibly improve upon.

  5. steven jeltz jr

    May 05, 2014 01:42 PM

    I love singles

    • Beez Nutz

      May 05, 2014 04:47 PM

      LOL that username is awesome. Perhaps the worst phillie I can ever remember.

  6. mark66

    May 05, 2014 02:10 PM

    The front office knew what they were getting when they traded for him. From what everyone is saying is that’s just another major mistake by the front office. Make changes in the front office so we can make better changes on the field.

    • crow

      May 05, 2014 03:48 PM

      They got him for a guy who isn’t even in the majors any more. How can that be a “major mistake”? Even if you don’t see him as a starter, he has a valuable situational skillset: he can run, he can hit for average when you need a hit, he can make contact when you need contact, etc.

  7. Tom

    May 05, 2014 04:42 PM

    It’s obvious some fans are simply rooting against this team and players. To those people: WE GET IT…you don’t like Amaro. To act as if Revere is a minor leaguer is absurd. Sure, I curse every time he grounds a 2 – 0 pitch, or when Howard swings over a low inside slider, or when Dom Brown looks like he has mad cow disease when he runs…but how can it be enjoyable to rip everyone all the time? Dudes a solid player, not great, but solid…deal with it.

    • Beez Nutz

      May 05, 2014 04:51 PM

      Well said.

      I think they also hate the fact they were wrong about just how bad this team actually is.

      • Tom

        May 05, 2014 05:37 PM

        I agree…everyone’s waiting for the downfall. Imagine if we had a bullpen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Carmine James Spellane

      May 06, 2014 08:33 AM

      I agree that there are many “Negadelphians” and always have been. I don’t consider myself one of them. I am pulling for the team to do well and rooting for Ben Revere to develop into a solid big leaguer, like, as Bill says, Juan Pierre. I just don’t see it happening, but would love to be proven wrong. As for Revere learning to take more pitches or hit more line drives, I don’t assume the worst of Ben; I blame it on the seeming inability of the Phillies coaching staff to work with hitters. Wally Joyner seemed to be a happy exception, but he’s gone.

      • Agent_P

        May 06, 2014 10:47 AM

        The problem is that Revere won’t ever become Juan Pierre. He is what he is – a 4th outfielder that provides speed. Unfortunately these types of players also hopefully provide something else to the table such as fielding. (Which Revere does not)

        Essentially he is a less valuable version of Endy Chavez.

        Hopefully RAJ will be replaced by someone who can manage resources better and has fundamentally different philosophy.

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